So, it all comes down to this. Seattle Hawkeye leads by a comfortable 12 points. Like Charlie Weis's late game instructions to his defense to let Stanford score the go ahead touchdown so that the Irish could get the ball back with time on the clock, the smart thing to do here is to go for upset points and hope for the impossible. If Pitt upsets Cincinnati, Alabama upsets Florida, Clemson upsets Georgia Tech and Seattle Hawkeye does what I expect him to do, and gets more conservative than Jim Tressel with a two touchdown lead, you just might pull it off.
Then again, perhaps you'd rather stick to your gut, and play for second or third place. After all, if this season continues its annoying upsetless ways, your "balls to the wall" ballot might blow up in your face, dropping you to the second tier of the standings.
On the other hand, what if Seattle Hawkeye anticipates the upset strategy, and hedges his bets by picking an upset or two, and buttoning things up the rest of the way? Then, it would appear, you're better off following Vegas and playing straight probabilities, hoping his upsets don't materialize and you catch a lucky break in the form of a perfect margin of victory.
For that matter, when should you enter your picks? Are you brazen enough to show your cards right away, or rather, will you try to snipe the contest eBay-style, publishing your picks mere minutes before Saturday's 11:00 a.m. (EST) deadline? It's certainly to Seattle Hawkeye's advantage to do so. But, then (of course) there's the risk of an unforeseen complication (internet outage, memory lapse, alarm clock failure etc.) that results in you missing the deadline.
I can think of at least seven people that wouldn't be too broken up if Seattle Hawkeye didn't show up at all this week.
The winner of the regular season Obligatory Predictions Competition will be announced next week.
GRAHAMFILLER10 predicts CINCINNATI by 10
Cinci sports a monster passing game with a defensive unit shaped like a sieve. Pitt has a two headed monster for a run game, with the turnover prone Bill Stull at quarterback. During the Pitt-WVU game, ESPN showed the Stull family standing on their own private porch about 200 yards from the field of play - according to Lisa Salters, the family was sick of the constant barrage of insults directed at Stull from the Pitt faithful. That doesn't sound like home field advantage to me.
LAW BUCKEYE predicts CINCINNATI by 10
On December 1st, 2007 No. 2 West Virginia faced unranked Pittsburgh as 28 point favorites, with a bid to the national championship game on the line. Pat White injured his thumb, the Panthers ran the ball out the back of their own endzone (taking the clock with it), and two weeks later Rich Rodriguez belonged to Michigan. True, even with a victory, Cincinnati wil need some unlikely assistance to climb unto the BCS National Championship Game. But the stakes in this one feel errily similar to that cold December night in Morgantown.
Pittsburgh revealed some schematic chinks in its armor in last's week's loss to West Virginia, particularly quarterback Bill Stull's overall decision making. The Panther's rushing attack, led by Freshman Dion Lewis, finds success early, but the long, laborious marching is overshadowed out by a simple truth: no one has figured out how to slow Cincinnati down on offense.
2. FRESNO STATE vs. ILLINOIS, 12:30 p.m. EST (12/5), Big Ten Network
GRAHAMFILLER10 predicts FRESNO STATE by 7
Balanced Bulldogs versus revitalized Juice Williams in his final game. This game has points written all over it. FSU gets an early lead behind their balanced attack and hangs on.
LAW BUCKEYE predicts ILLINOIS by 10
It took 9 weeks, but the Illini finally found an offense against Cincinnati. Nice going Ron. Keep it up!
GRAHAMFILLER 10 predicts FLORIDA by 7
The two best defenses in the country match up while CBS explodes into little bitty pieces out of sheer excitement. Verne Lundquist climaxes 13 times before kickoff before smoking a cigarette and taking a nap through the first half. Tebow leads a FG drive early, using his superpowers to gain the skills of Bo Jackson from Tecmo bowl, Jesus, and Tweeter from Varsity Blues. Alabama comes back quickly with a field goal, their players feeling relaxed from not attending a single class the entire semester. Urban Meyer's ingenious playcalling peaks with a triple reverse touchdown run by Demps, who gets three key blocks from Brandon Spikes, and by blocks I mean he literally kills three Alabama tacklers using broken beer bottles and a whipsaw. Lundquist wakes up again, sees the blood and excitement, climaxes again and falls asleep. Florida leads by 7 with a minute remaining but the game is canceled because, in a shocker, Nick Saban takes the Notre Dame head coaching position, stating that "42 million a year is what it's all about, not championships, or golden buildings."
LAW BUCKEYE predicts ALABAMA by 7
The "re-match" quality of the game of the regular season, does a disservice to the Crimson Tide who are a heck of a lot better now than they were a year ago. Sure, Auburn played them close. How many teams did that to Florida? (Tennessee, LSU, Arkansas, Mississippi State...)
As if suspended DE Carlos Dunlap needed another reason not to drive drink, it's the one he'll learn standing on the sidelines watching Greg McElroy take advantage of the precious extra seconds he gains in the pocket to find Julio Jones on deep routes. Jones, a Freshman force who slipped off the radar for parts of this season, is peaking at just the right time.
But what about Tebow? I think he plays marvelous, but just like his scripted hero "jump pass" that fell incomplete last week in Gainesville, a career full of superlatives falls short just once. Everyone's human, after all.
GRAHAMFILLER10 predicts TEXAS by 17
Nebraska's surprisingly stout defense (4th in the nation in scoring defense) does a great job stopping the run. Texas, with their uber-effective passing offense, will sacrifice the run and settle for 400 yards passing and a trip to the title game.
LAW BUCKEYE predicts TEXAS by 17
Move on folks, nothing to see here. To the extent it's been said at length, I won't make this entire blurb about how the Big Twelve North is a spineless aberration. I will say that we've seen the Longhorns struggle for the last time -- on Thanksgiving night against Texas A&M -- on their way into the clubhouse. Nebraska's interior line might give Colt McCoy a few close shaves, but that won't help the Huskers run or pass against a refreshingly unsinkable Big Twelve Defense.
5. DR. PEPPER ACC FOOTBALL CHAMPIONSHIP, No. 10 GEORGIA TECH vs. CLEMSON, 8:00 p.m. EST (12/5), ESPN
GRAHAMFILLER10 predicts GEORGIA TECH by 10
Vegas has no idea what's going to happen here, as these two teams played basically to a draw way back in September. We know Clemson is streaky, we know CJ Spiller is faster than God...but we don't know if the triple option can be slowed. Last time they played, GT rolled out a bunch of long runs early, Clemson adjusted and began stopping the pitch, GT adjusted to QB keepers on almost every play...And eventually the Jellow Yackets came away with a win. This is the 2nd best game of the weekend, no question.
LAW BUCKEYE predicts GEORGIA TECH by 10
There's a reason why this game is airing at 8:00 p.m. and not 3:30 p.m., and it has nothing to do with prominence. Both teams suffered humilitating losses last week to in-state underlings. Georgia Tech re-establishes its offensive cohesiveness, and sticks with what works: the run.